Salesforce co-founder and co-CEO Marc Benioff developed the V2MOM framework in the early days of the company as a management process tool.
He attributes Salesforce’s success to the company’s ability to maintain operational alignment during its rapid growth. That alignment was - and still is - fueled by the company-wide implementation of the V2MOM framework. Since then, many leaders have chosen this framework for their businesses due to its simplicity.
But like every framework, very few manage to extract value out of its implementation.
In this article, we’ll explain why V2MOM is such a popular framework and guide you through a flexible implementation that you can incorporate into your current management process.
Read on to find out:
- What is V2MOM
- Why choose the V2MOM framework
- The V2MOM framework: how to implement it
- A personal V2MOM example
- V2MOM vs OKR: what are the differences?
- Tips & tricks for the execution of the V2MOM framework
What is V2MOM
V2MOM stands for Vision, Value, Methods, Obstacles and Measures and is a goal-setting framework with a distinguishable twist. Its simplicity makes it easy to cascade it inside the organization and focus every employee’s effort towards a single direction.
V2MOM promises to align daily actions with long-term aspirations while increasing business transparency. Although it seems simple to implement, extracting the disproportionate value to the effort required is harder than it looks.
Its strongest asset is that it scales easily. At any level you implement the framework, you’re essentially answering the same five questions:
- Vision: what is your destination?
- Values: where will you focus your efforts?
- Methods: what will you do to reach your destination?
- Obstacles: what do you need to overcome?
- Measures: how do you know you reached your destination?
What changes each time is the context. Thus the questions (and answers) become more and more specific the narrower the context gets (the C-suite’s answer to the Vision question isn’t going to be as specific as the regional marketing team’s answer).
Why choose the V2MOM framework
Leaders prefer the V2MOM due to its simplicity, i.e. scalability and ease of explaining.
If your organization is struggling to communicate its strategic priorities while silos oppress your operations, then this framework is a step in the right direction. You’ll be able to force your teams to link their plans, projects and daily activities to the business’s priorities while increasing internal transparency.
However, it can’t do miracles or magically solve deeper problems like toxic cultures, inexperienced leadership, or rigid organizational structures. In other words, V2MOM is not a transformational or change management framework. But it’s a great catalyst for certain processes if the right conditions are present.
Manage your expectations and understand how the framework can help you solve certain problems.
The V2MOM framework: how to implement it
Like every strategic framework, there is no right or wrong way to implement the V2MOM process. There are, however, principles that will make the process easier and remove unnecessary friction.
A great strategy includes three important parts: goal setting, action planning and progress measuring.
V2MOM adds a small twist to this.
This is your destination.
Your Promise Land. Some people say it’s your WHY, but it’s not. The WHY refers to the past, your Vision refers to the future. What is the ideal outcome you wish to achieve? What do you imagine the ideal end state to be? Naturally, this isn’t the place for numbers, initiatives, or product features. Resist the urge.
This is the place for an inspirational future state that outlines the benefits of the stakeholders involved. If it’s your company’s vision, then it’s a Just Cause, a beneficial change your company promises to bring to the world. If it’s your product team’s vision, then it could be the benefit that the user enjoys, thanks to having the product.
The Vision works as a North Star.
Everything that follows needs to point, lean to, or propel you towards it. It’s the fundamental stone that develops alignment. Once you have this ready, everything that follows (from cascaded V2MOM statements to the rest of the VMOM) should answer positively to this single question:
Does this help us move towards our Vision?
V2MOM example: Vision
Product team’s Vision:
Create the most intuitive platform to teach kids the game of Monopoly.
V2MOM Values are not the same as your cultural values.
Consider your V2MOM Values as your plan’s Focus Areas. Leaders have only three resources at their disposal: people, money and time. And none of them is unlimited. So, you need to prioritize your goals so you can allocate (or, in the words of Sana Mohammed, Director of Global Loyalty Strategy at McDonald's Corporation, distort) resources accordingly.
Big moves and extraordinary achievements are the product of immense focus. That’s true for the individual, and it’s true for businesses as well. If your business is to achieve extraordinary results, you need an extraordinary amount of focus.
In Values, this is exactly what you attempt to determine.
What are the big categories of effort you want your business to focus on?
V2MOM example: Values
Product team’s Values:
- Make the platform so simple that eight-year-olds learn just as quickly as 15-year-olds.
- Make the platform so accessible that no child needs assistance to learn and play.
This is the weakest part of the V2MOM framework.
Or at least, the part that requires the most attention not to f…lush down the toilet. Because it’s filled with ambiguity. What do you include here, objectives or initiatives (they are not the same)? A ridiculously decluttering question.
There is no right or wrong answer here. A good practice is to write objectives, the goals that the team aims to achieve. Again, avoid including business metrics and numbers at this point. Follow the SMART model, and make them memorable so every team member can refer to them by memory when making a decision.
Whatever you decide, though, you need to ensure that you include both objectives and initiatives in your planning process. For example, you can complement the V2MOM with the OKR framework, so your approach is more holistic.
When filling out this part, ask yourself:
What are the steps that bring us closer to achieving our Vision while, at the same time, if we reach those steps, we’ll know we have achieved our Vision?
V2MOM example: Methods
Product team’s Methods (Initiatives):
- Develop the version(s) of the platform for visually impaired children.
- Teach the game’s rules in less than 10 mins.
Here lies the V2MOM twist.
No other (popular) goal-setting or strategic framework has this element. And it’s arguably the most valuable element of the V2MOM framework. Why? Outlining the obstacles you expect to face in your journey to achieving your vision helps you take a PROactive stance and prepare accordingly.
A proactive stance manifests in two ways. Firstly, you allocate resources differently to account for future troubles. Secondly, your focus is reinforced. Sometimes, knowing future challenges ahead of time enables you to reject activities that will have no impact on your goals. Thus, distorting your resources to support extraordinary initiatives.
A quick way to spot obstacles is to ask:
What does failure look like?
And then follow it with:
What challenges do we need to overcome to avoid failure?
V2MOM example: Obstacles
Product team’s Obstacles:
- Weak understanding of a visually impaired child’s needs
- No test users for the first version of the platform
Have you made any progress towards your vision?
How do you know?
This is the time to talk about numbers. The “M” in SMART stands for Measurable, i.e. metrics. Setting ambitious and inspiring goals is great for sparking momentum, but you need to know that you’re getting closer to them. Any leader can set up a couple of indicators to understand progress. And most leaders do. But measuring progress is a tricky game and can lead to catastrophic blind spots if you don’t play it consciously.
Here’s what you need to know.
Don’t try to find the one, all-revealing metric that tells you how great your team is with a single glance. It doesn’t exist. Instead, choose a set of metrics that collectively give you a 360° view of progress. Look for three distinctive metrics:
- Lagging KPIs. These are the traditional business metrics that describe past efforts’ results. Useful, yes, but incapable of revealing future results.
- Leading KPIs. These are action-based metrics that you can directly influence and let you know whether you’re going to hit your lagging KPIs.
- Counter KPIs. Determine one or two of these to make sure you’re not over-optimizing for certain lagging KPIs while unwillingly digging your future self’s grave.
V2MOM example: Measures
Product team’s Measures:
- (Lagging) Number of users dropping out before starting their first game
- (Lagging) Number of visually impaired children that complete their first game
- (Leading) Hours spent in researching and developing new features
- (Counter) Number of players that quit their first game
A personal V2MOM example
How do you craft a personal V2MOM document that aligns with those coming from the top?
This is the million-dollar question that all implementation problems boil down to. Let’s see what the V2MOM document of a fictional and ambitious sustainability leader called Jane could look like:
Make the firm the first in the industry with 0 environmental footprint.
- Decrease the company’s carbon footprint to 0% by 2030.
- Adjust processes and operations, so they fit the local environmental and socioeconomic conditions by 2025.
- Gradually shift the company’s energy sources to alternative, sustainable sources by 2025.
- Make an 80/20 analysis regarding the wastefulness of processes in manufacturing.
- Explore and adopt new and more sustainable technologies.
- Decrease manufacturing’s water demands by 50% by 2025.
- High cost of transformation
- The complexity of operations is massive
- Legislation prevents certain decisions/changes
- Manufacturing’s water usage
- % of the energy supplied by sustainable sources
- Cost of new technology and ROI timeline
Jane and her team will and should brainstorm solutions, get more specific with the Methods and ground the Vision and the Values in reality before committing to this V2MOM document.
But this example sets the tone for each part of the document and how Jane and her team should think about it.
V2MOM vs OKR
V2MOM and OKR are two quite different frameworks.
OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results. It’s not a framework that cascades as well as the V2MOM, nor does it provide the strategic context that the Vision and Values elements of V2MOM provide. However, when implemented well, OKRs align the company’s vision with the daily activities of every single employee and team. You can read more about the OKR framework in this article.
The V2MOM is a bit more flexible as an alignment tool and provides more context around the company’s strategy, but it takes more time to implement. It’s highly successful in providing people with the right information to make decisions aligned with the long-term priorities of the business while reinforcing internal transparency.
Some companies develop a customized approach that takes elements from various frameworks and fits their unique culture and organizational structure.
Don’t be afraid to do the same.
Tips & tricks for the execution
Implementing a framework out of the blue is rarely a good idea.
And we don’t really believe you ever had that intention. We’re sure you’ll bring your critical thinking, past mistak.. ahem… experiences and your best people in the process.
Just in case you need a couple of extra tips, we have prepared a few in advance.
1. Respect the order of the elements in V2MOM
This might seem obvious to some, so this is for the rest.
Filling out a V2MOM document is challenging. You’ll find that some elements will be hard to fill or distinguish from other elements. Naturally, you’ll want to skip them. Don’t. The order matters.
Starting from the Vision and ending with the Measures forces you to define the destination and then work backwards on how to achieve it. Then, knowing how you’ll measure your progress, you can determine the immediate first step towards it.
In other words, it’s how you build focus and executional momentum.
2. Experiment and allow space for learning
Theory and reality are not exactly BFFs.
When they meet, reality tends to bully theory until the latter breaks. Reading a guide on how to implement a framework like V2MOM is generally a good preparation tactic. But the sacred part of the struggle is during execution. When you attempt to adopt a framework for the first time, you meet resistance and make a ton of mistakes.
Expect it, and don’t rely on its successful implementation too much until your business matures enough. Start small and expand as you gain experience and small wins. Give your people the time to learn and adjust, and make sure you adapt your approach with every next step to make V2MOM fit your culture.
3. Keep it short & simple
One page short.
Long V2MOM documents tend to include a lot of fluff and don’t cascade easily. Keeping it concise forces you to make tough decisions on prioritization that pay out in the mid to long-term.
A V2MOM document loses half of its value if it's long or too complex. As a general rule, avoid acronyms or jargon, and use memorable language to provide clarity.
People’s decisions are more targeted when they understand and remember their destination.
4. Use software to track and manage your V2MOM implementation
Software is never the answer to poor implementation or ineffective change management.
So when is software worth its ROI? When you’re ready to scale. If the mid or long-term goal is to adopt a framework like V2MOM on a company-wide scale, you’ll need software to track and manage it.
Digital platforms like Cascade’s strategy execution platform offer access to all employees and reinforce transparency and accountability. Cascade enables the independent development of plans and V2MOM documents while linking (aligning) them all with the company’s overarching strategy.
If you’d like to find out more about how Cascade can help you to implement the V2MOM framework, start a free trial or jump on a demo with our team and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know.